Saturday, December 10, 2011

Things To Do

Finish lunch.

Find job for me.

Find job for him.

File bills.

Deposit checks.

Write check to IRS.

Pick up spewed medicine cabinet contents from bathroom floor.

Wash bathroom floor.

Move bathroom mirror.

Patch bathroom plaster.

Sweep and swiffer every other rooms' floors.

Clean birdcages.

De-dust multiple surfaces.

Determine why I'm unable to part with old magazines, tourist publications, and other mail that is "pretty."

Determine why I'm unable to part with old clothes that are not ruined but do not fit.

Determine why I still have:

Christmas ornaments, an aluminum tree and two color-wheels;
a box of yarn my mom discarded, some skeins of which are older than I am;
a box of t-shirt fabric my grandmother left behind;
a porcelain doll in the original box from my great aunt;
a gold rosary from my grandmother;
an Austrian crystal rosary from my other grandmother;
bottle of gunky dark blue nail polish purchased in Paris for $2 in 1996;
two extremely outdated laptops I'm afraid to turn on to see whether any data (old writing) is salvageable;
my original bed from childhood;
ashes from two cats and one budgie;
a carafe-less Boden French-press coffee pot;
two hammocks from Vietnam that have never been hung;
an office chair in the hallway from a former job;
four Duncan Phyfe chairs that no one can sit on;
a small pile of rusted found metal objects on the patio;
a filing cabinet full of old artwork, school papers, paints, Sun Magazines and other people's manuscripts and art-postcards;
a box of fossils;
the original wood-frame windows from my last apartment when the landlord did an upgrade;
10 plastic alligators from a 2008 Mardi gras costume;
a Kelty hiking backpack that hasn't been used since 2003;
a black velvet dress I found in a roachy box at an antique store during high school that I took in clumsily and ruined;
a pale silk dress I found at a thrift store during college that was always too big and has a pen-mark on it;
storage tub full of copies of hand-written letters I sent to boys before the Internet existed;
two antique and very heavy bicycles;
two fishing poles and one reel from the 1980s that my dad gave me and that we used to use;
a 10-foot circular wool rug that my mom didn't want anymore but that will never match my decor;
cookie cutters;
unpaired earrings;
my first pair of earrings,
two punch bowls and associated cups that I got for a 2000 New Year's party;
my wedding shoes that are stained;
a box of bird feathers;
a tooth, whisker and collar from my first cat;
my first grey hair;
a book a friend wrote that I purchased in hardback that I think sucks;
two books another friend wrote that are excellent but that I can't read;
four high school yearbooks;
birthday cards spanning decades;
diaries that I wrote but that sound like they are from another human entirely;
this blog.

The answer for most items is the same. Or similar. It does not rhyme with hoarding, but it also is why Buddha won't come over to visit. I am excruciatingly sentimental. Not just with things. I am the kind of person who can re-connect on Facebook with an ex-boyfriend after 20 years and quote to him what he told me about his grandparents. I am the kind of person who can write a letter to my younger brother on his 21st birthday and list all the things we used to do growing up that I loved, only to have him tell me he had not remembered any of them (until then). The kind of person who didn't have to look at or for any of the things listed above with my eyes to know they exist and where they are stored.

In the house, we also have a piece of slate and a broken salad-oil bottle from Joplin's giant tornado. They were supposed to have been used in an artwork that would have been sold or auctioned in a benefit, but the artist I live with is like me sometimes. You can't always get to creating; items pile up as ideas unfulfilled. The ruse is that it's all potential energy and materials.

Knowing so ridiculously intimately about all the objects/things I possess, I wonder, truly, what it's like to lose them all in one fell swoop, such as by tornado, fire or even theft. I imagine their absence would plague me as much as their presence. I still lament and catalog items and places from childhood, high school, college, Japan, etc. that are no longer with me in a literal or tangible way. I carry them around.

One of the science shows on PBS that I have only seen clips of told us that there is a high probability of multiple, simultaneous universes. I wish I could live a very, very long time and see so many more things like this explained. When I was a child, I used to believe that, "When you died and went to Heaven," all would be revealed — you would have access to all time, all places, and all knowledge. You could travel anywhere and look down on Earth and watch it unfold. I still want that to be true, though even a so-called new-age view that we all are one / all is energy, etc. does not provide enough hope/faith/comfort to me that there is anything to look forward to once you don't have access anymore to your things, such as your body.

I have been working for about 150 days at a small law firm, and one of the attorneys specializes in probate-type matters. In other words: "What Happens to You When You Can't Take Care of Yourself and/or Your Money and/or You Die." Having a man who is approximately my parents' age come in to drop off his annual conservatorship report for the court about his aunt who has been in a decline for more than a year, hearing him explain about his photocopies and lists that the safe-deposit box was closed out, the headstone was purchased, the furniture and piano were sold off, shows what it all comes down to.

Unless you have some progeny who will do things like save a carpet, a box of yarn, fishing poles, a four-postered bed frame that originated from the nurses' quarters at Barnes Hospital 80 years ago, your religious objects … or, I guess, someone who attaches her own new meaning to objects that came from others' families ('70s punch bowls, clothing, furniture) … or who can't let go of certain gifts or items that represent experiences … no — there is no unless. This just is what it is: humans who are post-agrarian and whose memories seem to depend now on things.

Yet, I do sometimes detach myself from items.

I do give away clothes. I even gave away a wedding present that was perfectly fine, had some functionality and was from someone I love. Clutter. I donated away a waffle iron my dad had gotten for me at an estate sale. Impossible to clean. Last week, I set the television, a DVD player, the digital converter box, and another TV that only worked as a VCR-playing device (and VCR) out on the curb because I was irritated with the accumulation; three of the five objects had been in a cabinet for months, if not years.

To be fair to my sense of recycling: I did not expect the city trash service to take them; I was hoping someone who wanted them or who was a wire-salvager would be on the receiving end. The electronics were not in a bag — in this two-bag-limit, our-landfill-is-too-full town. The city trash collectors are the same ones who, a few weeks ago, would not take a large charcoal bag of trash because the contract recycling collectors had put a sticker on it that said: "Oops, not recyclable." Or they had gotten there first and presumed it was a "leaf bag."

I still have six aluminum ice cube trays, and they are not in the freezer.

Next to them on the deacon's bench is a snowman-shaped vase filled with candy canes from last Christmas.


Hyperblogal said...

THIS is a very good post...

hearmysong said...

We are kindred spirits in that I also form the attachments and can recite all the things from childhood my brother and I used to do, and he remembers none of them. That can be painful.

One room at a time, one box at time, one shelf at a time.

I can come help. Let me know--maybe in Feb or March?--if it can wait that long. You can always scan things if you really want to hold on to them, but no, it is not the same as paper that they held in their hands that you can now hold in your hand. I know that too well. But books can be rebought or borrowed. Earrings without mates can be donated to artists for projects. There are ways and means and places if you look...

Becky D said...

this is my favorite. like coming to your home, i glimpse into your soul through the objects you have saved. so poignant. more please. don't let the blog go the way of the dodo. for my sake, anyway.

Applecart T. said...

OMG, I still have all that stuff, sans a couple of pairs of shoes that were dead / falling apart. I had them out in view, though, for at least six months before I could put them in the trash. And I even took their portraits ahead of time.
PS, the clothes still don't fit, but it I make it to 70+, I'm sure I'll be all skinny again, right?